FURD held an event last week to showcase work inspired by our Arthur Wharton Heritage Project. The 'soiree', hosted by Sheffield United's Legends of the Lane museum, brought together participants in the three strands of the project - creative work in schools, further research into little known areas of Wharton's life, and a documentary film.
A 'flash mob' of 8 boys from Newfield School in Sheffield startled people when they launched, from various points in the room, into a sudden loud performance of an Arthur Wharton-themed poem. This was a result of eight weeks of workshops with facilitator Dee Reynolds, including many lunchtimes of practising, and they can be very proud of the results.
Artwork, including Arthur's 'family tree', created by Westbourne School pupils, was on display, and the art facilitator Colin Yates was there to talk about the experience of working with the pupils.
The youngest speaker was 9 year old Louis Affen, who discovered Arthur Wharton through FURD's website when trying to find a black Victorian to study for a school project about Victorians. His new-found interest in Wharton resulted in his coming top out of 90 pupils at Cheadle Catholic Junior School for his resulting project, and he even made it into the local newspaper!
The more senior age group was represented by Sheila Leeson, Arthur’s granddaughter, who spoke about her involvement in the project. Sheila has been generous with her time, visiting schools to talk to pupils about her grandfather.
Developments in research into Wharton’s life were shared by volunteers and workers. Volunteer researcher Kevin Titterton shared some exciting news about contacts he’s made in Edlington, Doncaster, with Edlington Victoria Primary School and the newly formed Yorkshire Main Heritage Trust. Wharton lived in Edlington and worked as a miner at Yorkshire Main Colliery after retiring from professional sport. We’re looking forward to developing these links with the school and Heritage Trust in the future.
Project archivist Ruth Johnson talked about the Arthur Wharton Archive, based at FURD, which is documenting both Wharton’s life and the activities of the Heritage Project. She encouraged everyone to contribute material and information to it, and also to make use of the resources and services available.
Two excerpts from the forthcoming documentary film were screened for the first time, introduced by film maker Rory Gault. The film will be about Wharton’s life as well as documenting different aspects of the Heritage Project.
The event was introduced by Project Co-ordinator Lisa Sultanti, who stressed the central role of heritage to the project, and the importance of everyone’s heritage to their own life and identity. She also talked about forthcoming elements to the project, which include working with Rotherham Young Writers Group, a drama project in Edlington Victoria Primary School, and a Victorian Sports Day at Dinnington School.
FURD would like to thank all the project participants and everyone involved in the planning and running of the event.